In 1971 western Missouri, there was only one safe place for runaway and homeless youth: Synergy House. Nearly 50 years later, the nonprofit has expanded to provide a full continuum of care to assist both families and individuals of all ages who are in search of a safe and supportive environment to be free of violence. The organization – now called Synergy Services – provided care to more than 5,500 people in 2016, but it was still turning away about 250 young people every year because it just didn’t have enough space. Enter the organization’s new Synergy Children Center.
The 11,000-square-foot site, which opened in late 2016, doubled the capacity of Synergy’s child programming. It provides not only emergency shelter, but also a feeling of home with indoor and outdoor play areas, colorful bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto gardens and nature walks, and even an art-therapy room. The Children’s Center even won a 2017 Capstone Award for Community Impact from the Kansas City Business Journal.
The $3.5 million project was financed largely by donations and pledges. IFF provided two bridge loans totaling $831,000: one to allow construction to continue while pledges were collected; and another to bridge a gap in expected payments from states and county programs.
“This is a common problem for expanding nonprofits – they have the skills and experience to do something new, and they have funders who are willing to pay them, but sometimes the reality is it’s difficult to align the expense of building capacity with the timing of new revenue streams,” Desai-Ramirez said. “I’m glad IFF was able to help tie those two things together so Synergy can get services to people who need them.”
This was IFF’s second time working with Synergy, which borrowed $1.4 million from IFF in 2012 to finance the development of Synergy’s 22,000-square-foot Youth Resiliency Center and other capital improvements at their campus.
“As an agency committed to helping foster resiliency in children, youth, and families as they overcome trauma, homelessness, poverty, and abuse, we appreciate the impact IFF provides in helping Synergy and countless other agencies gain the resiliency and financial stability needed to fulfill our mission,” said Robin Winner, Synergy’s Executive Director. “In Synergy’s work to help people become safe today and strong tomorrow, we often site the quote that ‘it is not shelter from the storm but learning to dance in the rain,’ and IFF helps us keep dancing!”
In addition to emergency shelter, Synergy provides crisis intervention, long-term violence prevention programs, transitional housing, in-court advocacy, mentoring, and more.